The Writer’s Baggage

Maryfrance The baggage I’ll write about today isn’t that negative psychological baggage we all carry with us: regrets, guilt, shame, and the like. I’m referring to the things we actually need to lug with us if we are to succeed on this publishing journey. So, pack your bags, writers, and don’t forget to strap on some humor as you do.


The Ten Pieces of Baggage Every Writer Needs:

  1. Chocolate. Preferably dark. I keep mine in the lower right hand drawer of my desk. The current picking? Trader Joe’s dark chocolate goodness. Keeps my mind clear. Makes me smile even after reading my “royalty” statements (which feel more like pauper statements!).
  2. Grit-spitting tenacity. The kind a cowboy would have after wrestling cows, wrangling snakes, and eating Hormel chili over an open, smoky fire. You have to come at this business like a spider monkey (wearing chaps, to keep the cowboy metaphor alive). When rejection slaps you upside the face, you gotta prepare for more rodeo, more bucking, more angry bulls. The trick to cowboy grit? Keep getting back in the saddle. Every day. Write those words as your act of defiance! Each word written is like a notch in your belt.
  3. Another hobby just as successful as writing: Hummingbird training. With hummingbird training, you experience the same sort of whiplash, the same frenetic activity. The same flying feathers. Succeed at Hummingbird training (particularly two birds performing a synchronized dance) and you’ll succeed at writing. Besides, you may need to fall back on it in your later years.
  4. Cheerleaders. I don’t mean this metaphorically. Actual high school cheerleaders clad in orange and purple, your name blazed like an alma mater across their fronts. Have at least five show up at your desk every day to say this cheer: “A-W-E-S-O-M-E, Awesome, are Thee!” (Mixing a cheer with King James English will accomplish two things: The Shakespearean rhythm will inform your prose, and the cheering will lighten your rejected spirit.)
  5. Stickers. Steal these from your kids’ teachers in a clandestine overthrow of the sticker drawer. Stickers like 100% A+, or “Great Job!” or “You’re a great kid” (which you are!). Print off your latest piece, the one you think is drivel personified, and adhere one of these babies on it. Suddenly, you’re terrific! Wonderful! Unbelievably talented!
  6. A dog, not a cat. A dog will lay (oh shoot, or is it lie?) by your feet as you compose deeply significant words that will impact the planet. When you’re drained, feeling blue, old Rover will roll over, loll his eyes your way, and slobber a smile. Such unconditional love is hard to find in this business, so securing a dog is essential. A cat, however, doesn’t shower you with fuzzy love. She types gibberish on your keyboard when you’re not looking and spills tea on your computer. If you can’t afford a dog, buy a hamster in a habitrail. His constant spinning on that “wheel of life” will be the impetus you need to keep going. Make it a point to write when he wheels, and you’ll be guaranteed to be prolific.
  7. A snuggie.Everyone needs one, but writers especially do. Because our income doesn’t bring in enough to pay our heat bills! And of course, our hands and can’t be bothered or inconvenienced by a mere blanket that wrestles our fingers into blind submission.
  8. And for that matter, a Huggie. Not the diapering kind, the real embracing hug from a fellow author who understands your plight. You receive and impart these “huggies” at conferences, where other writers parade around in designer snuggies.
  9. A New Christmas List. To maintain proper sanity, every author needs to update his/her Christmas list with certain items emphatically CROSSED OUT. No more JOURNALS! We have thousands of them. No more PENS! Or PLAQUES with catchy slogans about writing being like opening up a vein (ew). Replace said list with: A MAC COMPUTER (Sorry PC fans). A TRIP TO A REMOTE SPA ISLAND. THE GENES OF J.K. ROWLING. And a JET SKI.
  10. A weird disguise. Preferably a toupe, some ugly thick glasses, a mustache, and a hood. Why? To shield you from all that paparazzi when you become famously famous, bigger than Hannah Montana when she breaks up or adds a boyfriend. And while you’re at it, add some Peeps. Not an entourage that follows you around and tells you how cool you are (that’s what your family is for, right?) But actual marshmallow peeps. They will cheer you on when your fame fades and no one thinks you’re the it girl/guy. A peep is eternal. Just look at the shelf life.

So, there you have it. A writer’s necessary baggage. I’d love to know if I’ve possibly missed anything. If I have, please enlighten me in the comments section. I will say that Night Vision Goggles did vie for the number ten spot. So you can’t say those.

10 thoughts on “The Writer’s Baggage

  1. LOL I love this list! Esp the marshmallow peeps–love those and I don’t know why! My family has gotten smarter on the Christmas gifts and gotten me Barnes and Noble gift cards. :)
    Camy

  2. Great list. LOVE the stickers.

    I’d trade the snuggie (I’m in south Fl, after all) for an answering machine with a message stating that I’m at work on my latest project and unable to answer the phone. I can call myself several times a day as a reminder to get back to work.

    I think you are right about cats and dogs. My cat likes to lie across my arm and purr while I type. He drools when he purrs.

  3. I love this. Im praying that I’ll soon have all of the above named baggage to keep with me at all times. I definiely have a great dog that fits the description, a few cheerleades, and several hobbies.

  4. Hah. When I worked in a newsroom, we for some reason were on the mailing list of the Peeps people, who sent us a box every time they came up with a new Peep ( Christmas trees, ghosts, and of course the classic easter Peep in new colors every year). Every time, we solemnly opened the box, extracted one, and processed with it to a bulletin board overlooking the copy desk, where were ceremoniously pinned it next to the last Peep, and the one before that, and the one before that… By the time I left, there were about 20 in a row. (And the 10-year-old ones were not significantly smaller or drier than the new ones.) They benignly smiled down on us all.

  5. Hmm, I suggest a cat. They’re generally not as noisy. My dog Jack loves to go nuts at the most inopportune times- usually when I’m interviewing someone on speakerphone.

    Also, he tends to scare the $#^% out of me when I’m in a deep writing trance and the mailman walks by. Heart attacks are not good for writers.

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